9 Kinds of Hydrocolloids Commonly Used in Meat Processing

9 Kinds of Hydrocolloids Commonly Used in Meat Processing


Hydrocolloids are well-known and widely used food additive in the world, you can find them in almost all of the foods.

Hydrocolloids in the meat processing can effectively improve the quality of meat products, increase binding property and water retention capacity, give the product a good taste, and at the same time improve the yield of meat products.

Therefore, hydrocolloids are the indispensable elements in the processing of meat products.

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Types of hydrocolloids

Currently there are many types of hydrocolloids used in meat products, most of which are extracted from plants, seaweed, microorganisms and animals.

There are about 60 kinds of hydrocolloids allowed in the world, and about 40 kinds allowed in China.

So, what are the 9 kinds of hydrocolloids?

Among them, the most widely used are carrageenan, agar-agar, konjac gum, alginates, xanthan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, edible gelatin and compound hydrocolloids blends, etc.

1. Carrageenan

Carrageenan from Gino Gums & Stabilizers


At present, carrageenan is the most commonly used hydrocolloid in meat foods. It has excellent water retention effect and the water retention capacity is 10-20 times of its own weight.

There are seven types of carrageenan, of which K-carrageenan is commonly used in China.

Carrageenan has good solubility, and it is the only hydrocolloids with protein reactivity among natural gums.

Carrageenan can combine with proteins to form a huge network structure, so it can maintain a lot of moisture in meat products, reduce the loss of gravy, and form good elasticity and toughness.

Carrageenan also has a good emulsification effect, which can stabilize fats, thereby improving the yield of products.

In addition, carrageenan can prevent the loss of salt-soluble proteins and actin, and inhibit the dissolution of umami components.

Carrageenan is widely used in the production of minced meat and ham products. It can improve the water retention and tissue structure of the product, make the product structure fine, elastic, good sliced, moderate crisp, tender and smooth.

It is generally added in meat products at 0.2% to 1.5%. According to the experimental research, it is found that when the quality of carrageenan is poor or the added amount is too large, it often results in the phenomenon of water out of the meat and affects the product quality.

2. Agar-Agar

agar agar powder


Agar is a hydrophilic colloid, which is insoluble in cold water and easily soluble in hot water.

Agar has coagulability and stability in food industry applications, can form complexes with some substances, and can be used as thickener, coagulant, emulsifier, preservative and stabilizer.

The gel formed by it is strong and can make the product have a certain shape. However, if it is used excessively, the product's tissue structure will become rough and hard, and the surface will shrink and wrinkle.

In the processing of canned meat, 0.2% ~ 0.5% agar is generally used, which can effectively bind minced meat and form a gel.

3. Konjac Gum

konjac gum banner


The main ingredient of konjac is glucomannan, which is a food with low heat energy, low protein, and high dietary fiber. It is rich in dozens of amino acids and trace elements required by the human body.

Konjac gum has a variety of physical and chemical properties such as thickening, stability, suspension, gelation, film formation, and adhesion, so it is an ideal food additive.

Konjac gum has a wide range of uses. It can be used as a thickener, stabilizer, gelling agent and binder in meat products.

4. Alginate



Alginate, as a natural food additive, has a wide range of uses and applications in the food industry.

Alginates used in the food industry are mainly sodium alginate, potassium alginate, and ammonium alginate.

The main role of alginate is gelation, that is, the formation of edible gel; secondly, it has thickening effect and film-forming property.

In addition, an important feature of alginate is its high solution viscosity. With this feature, it can be used as a thickener and binder in meat products.

5. Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum from Gino Gums & Stabilizers


Xanthan gum is also known as Xanthomonas polysaccharides and xanthan gum. It is odorless, non-toxic, safe to eat, acid & alkali& high salt resistant, high temperature resistant, and resistant to enzymatic hydrolysis. Konjac gum is one of the most superior microbial fermentation gums in the world.

At present, several microbial polysaccharides are being developed at home and abroad. Xanthan gum is one of the most distinctive ones. It is also the world's largest and most widely used microbial polysaccharide.

Xanthan gum is a water-soluble gum, which has the functions of thickening, suspending, emulsifying and stabilizing. Even low-concentration xanthan gum solution has high viscosity characteristics (the viscosity of 1% xanthan gum solution is 100 times that of gelatin) It is a highly effective thickener.

Xanthan gum is widely used in various meat products. The use of xanthan gum in meat products such as ham, luncheon meat, red sausage, etc. can significantly improve the water holding capacity, tenderness, color and flavor of the product.

The amount used in ham is generally about 1%, and the amount used in luncheon meat and red sausage is generally 0.1% ~ 0.5%.

6. Guar Gum

Guar gum is generally white to light yellow-brown powder, neutral polysaccharide, without any odor.

It can be fully hydrated by soaking in cold water for 1 to 2 hours, and can be dispersed in hot or cold water to form a viscous liquid. It has the highest viscosity in natural hydrocolloids.

However, long-term high temperature treatment will lead to self-degradation of guar gum, reducing its viscosity.

In the range of pH 3.5 ~ 10, the gum solution is not significantly affected. In the range of pH 6 ~ 8, the viscosity of the solution can reach the maximum value.

Guar gum is mainly used as a thickener, binder and water retaining agent in meat products, and is usually used alone or in combination with other edible gums.

It is slightly inferior in heat resistance and acid resistance to microbial hydrocolloids such as xanthan gum, but because of its low price, it has become one of the most widely used hydrocolloids in the world.

7. Locust Bean Gum

Locust bean gum is usually used in combination with other edible gums. It can be used as a thickener, water retention agent and gelling agent.

It can improve water retention and meat structure in meat products, such as western sausages.

If it interacts with xanthan gum, carrageenan, guar gum, etc., it can increase its viscosity and form a gel.

8. Edible Gelatin

Gelatin is a colloidal protein extracted from animal bones, skin, tendons, or connective tissue.

It is an incomplete protein. It can improve the taste and the nutritional value in the processing of meat products.

Edible gelatin has the effects of emulsification, thickening and color protection in the processing of meat products, which can improve the product yield.

The recommended usage of edible gelatin is not more than 5%.

For example, adding 2% edible gelatin to ham and canned foods can make the product a smooth surface with good transparency.

9. Compound Hydrocolloid

Stabilizers from Gino Gums & Stabilizers


Compound hydrocolloid is a kind of edible gum obtained by compounding two or more single hydrocolloids according to a certain ratio.

Because there are many types of edible hydrocolloids, the composition structure and physical and chemical properties are different, using a single hydrocolloid in meat products often has various technical or economic disadvantages;

However, through compounding, the complementary effects of various individual hydrocolloid can be exerted, thereby expanding the scope of use of food hydrocolloids and improving their functions.


For example, the gel formed by carrageenan is strong and brittle, and its shrinkage and dehydration will bring disadvantages in the application of meat products. However, after adding locust bean gum to carrageenan, its elasticity and rigidity will increase.

With the increase of locust bean gum concentration, its cohesion also increased accordingly;

When the ratio of the two kinds of glue reaches 1: 1, the breaking strength of the gel is quite high, so that the meat product has a good mouthfeel.

Utilizing the good gel synergy effect between the hydrocolloids can not only improve the tissue structure of the meat product, give the meat product a good taste and tissue state, but also reduce the amount of edible gums used and the production cost.

Therefore, compound hydrocolloid has become a hot spot in the application research of meat product additives.

Name Source Functions Applications in Food Industry
Thickener, Gelling agent, Stabilizer, React with protein
minced meat, ham, meatball, pasta, beverage, etc.
Agar Agar
Thickener, Coagulant, Preservative and Stabilizer
Meat products, Jelly, Confectionery, Dairy, etc
Konjac Gum
Thickeners, Stabilizers, Gels and film formers
Meat products, Confectionery, Dairy products, Beverages and pasta products.
Thickeners, Adhesives and Gelling agents
Meat products, Beverages, etc.
Xanthan Gum
Thickeners, Suspending agents, Emulsifiers and Stabilizers
Ham, luncheon meat, red sausage, minced meat products, etc.
Guar Gum
Thickeners, Binders and Water-retaining agents
Pasta and meat products
Locust Bean Gum
Thickener, Water-holding agent, Adhesive and Gelling agent
Jam, jelly, meat products, beverages, etc.
Edible Gelatin
Animal skins, bones and tendons, etc.
Emulsifiers, Adhesives, Thickeners, Gelling agents
Meat products, confectionery, health food, etc.

Mechanism of Hydrocolloids in Meat

1. The role of protective proteins

Proteins in meat products are divided into water-soluble proteins, salt-soluble proteins and hard proteins, which give meat products a good taste.

But after prolonged processing, the protein will be denatured and degraded. If the meat product has poor water retention, it will cause protein loss, the flavor will be greatly affected, and the meat product will easily dehydrate and shrink.

Edible gum can react with the polar part of protein, which can effectively combine protein in the gel system formed by the edible gum, plus its water retention effect, can maximize the formation of good taste and elasticity of meat products.

2. Gel water retention

Water retention is an important requirement for meat products. If the water retention is poor, the meat product has a rough taste, poor sliceability, and low yield.

By adding edible gum that has a strong affinity with water, the water retention of meat products can be improved. Generally, substances added in meat products include starch, soybean protein, and edible gum.

The water absorption ratio of starch is 1: 2, the water absorption ratio of soybean protein is 1: 4, and the water absorption ratio of edible gum can reach dozens of times.

This is because the molecular structure of edible gum contains strong ionic groups, which can form hydrogen bonds with free water and the three-dimensional spatial structure of edible gum. This can “freeze” the free water firmly, so the moisture during meat processing will not be lost in large quantities, and plays a role in holding and retaining water.

3. Emulsification and Stabilization

After adding hydrocolloids to meat products, the viscosity of the system will increase, and the dispersed phase will not be easily polymerized, so the system can be stabilized.

The action of hydrocolloids is usually not done according to the hydrophilic-lipophilic balance mechanism of general emulsifiers, but by thickening and increasing viscosity to prevent or reduce the tendency of dispersed oil particles to migrate and polymerize. .

4. Coating effect

Hydrocolloids can be used as a coating agent, covering the surface of meat products, forming a protective film, protecting meat products from the effects of oxygen and microorganisms, and playing a role of extending shelf life, freshness and aroma.

Application Prospects of Hydrocolloids

Whether it is a single hydrocolloid or a composite hydrocolloid, it has been widely used in the food industry, especially the meat product industry, and has achieved considerable development.

With the development of science and technology and social progress in recent years, some new hydrocolloids have emerged in the food industry, such as pullulan, coagulated polysaccharides, flaxseed gum, gellan gum, etc., and they have been gradually applied to meat products. in.


In addition to the properties of traditional hydrocolloids, some of these new hydrocolloids have special properties. For example, coagulated polysaccharides, in which the unique high temperature invariability of thermogels are of great value in the processing of meat products, can be used to develop meat reorganization and maintain the tissue state of the product when heated, and no physical deformation occurs.


In general, with the further research and development of hydrocolloid resources, more new types of hydrocolloids will continue to emerge. It is hoped that more high-performance hydrocolloids can be used in the production and processing of meat products to promote the development of the food industry.

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